Growing Our Economy
Making Wisconsin a Great Place to Live and Work
In the four years before Governor Scott Walker took office, Wisconsin lost nearly 134,000 jobs and, at the low point, unemployment topped out at 9.2 percent. Our state faced a $3.6 billion budget deficit and our business community lacked the confidence that our state was headed in the right direction.
We made tough, but prudent, decisions and addressed the root of the problem. We enacted structural reforms to build a solid foundation for our future.
Today, Wisconsin’s future is bright. Since taking office more than four years ago, our reforms and investments have made Wisconsin a more free and prosperous state and put the hardworking taxpayers and citizens of this great state back in control.
The unemployment rate has dropped to 4.3 percent, more than 10,000 new businesses establishments have been created. Our rainy day fund is now 165 times bigger than when we first took office. We have changed the opinion of our state’s job creators—for the better. In 2010, a mere 10 percent of employers surveyed by the state chamber said our state was headed in the right direction; in 2015, 91 percent said Wisconsin is headed in the right direction.
Creating jobs is about more than just a campaign promise. It is about helping improve the lives of families all across our great state. Every new job is more than a statistic. It is another family with someone working, which means fewer worries about how to put meals on the table, how to make a mortgage payment, or how to put clothes on the backs of their kids.
Because of our tough decisions and an improving fiscal outlook, we provided nearly $4.7 billion in tax relief for Wisconsin families and businesses, including the largest income tax cut in 14 years, with the largest income tax rate reductions going to those making between $15,000 and $50,000. Nearly 80 percent of the tax cut goes to people who fit President Obama’s definition of the middle class.
Keeping hard-earned money in the hands of those who earn it means they, in turn, can spend their money the way they choose and can help grow our economy.
Uncertainty with government regulations and tax policy can deter business owners from wanting to make investments in their company. Lack of investment and expansion means fewer jobs are being created, leaving more households with a family member out of work.
We have created a sense of certainty for the business community by reducing the overall tax burden in the state, passing aggressive tort reform legislation, and cutting red tape in order to get government out of the way so our state’s job creators can focus on working to expand and create family-supporting jobs here in Wisconsin. Our reforms have given job creators the confidence to hire, expand, and grow in Wisconsin.
All of these changes have made our business climate friendlier. In 2010, Wisconsin ranked 41st in CEO Magazine’s Best States for Business list. After our first Jobs Session, which passed some of the most aggressive pro-jobs legislation in the country with bipartisan support, we moved up to 24th. Now, Wisconsin ranks 12th in the nation.
Governor Walker’s most recent budget continues our investments in key economic development initiatives aimed at improving the business climate and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. Wisconsin’s job creators tell Governor Walker they need more access to capital. They encourage him to continue working to improve perceptions about the state’s business climate, so they can continue creating jobs in communities all across the state.
The 2015-2017 Biennial Budget builds on our accomplishments with the following initiatives:
- Business Development Tax Credit: Combines and streamlines existing tax credits to provide greater simplicity and flexibility in business tax incentives. This new credit will be allocated $17 million in 2016 and $22 million in 2017 and beyond to stimulate job creation, employee training and retention, and incentivize company investments in Wisconsin.
- Enterprise Zones: Increases the number of enterprise zones that the state's economic development agency may award from 20 to 30. These encourage companies to continue investing in Wisconsin’s workforce by offering tax credits for a number of economic development activities, including employee training, incorporating other Wisconsin businesses in their supply chain, job creation and retention, and capital investment.
- Fabrication Laboratory Grant Program: Allocates $500,000 for grants for purchases of equipment used in fabrication laboratories for K-12 students. Fabrication labs are high-technology workshops that help train students on manufacturing components, like three-dimensional printers, laser engravers, and plasma cutters.
- Confluence Project: Provides $15 million in matched funds for the Eau Claire Area Confluence Arts Center promoting economic development in downtown Eau Claire and the greater Chippewa Valley region. Confluence Project fundraisers must raise their entire portion of the project cost before state money will be released.